The Good Dog by Avi (J Fiction)

The Good Dog

Avi (J Fiction)

McKinley was a good dog who lived a good life. He was part of a caring family, loved by his human pup Jack, had lots of friends, and held the distinction of being head dog of the Steamboat pack. Yes, life for the malamute was very good until the day a she-wolf by the name of Lupin arrived. Her words of freedom and wild enticed McKinley as he began to feel the burden of taking care of both his pack and his pup. Lupin had him questioning his life as a bound dog…a slave to humans and their will. As McKinley begins to witness the cruelty that humans were capable of, would he submit to his wolf ancestry and join Lupin to live a life without rules and conditions? What would a good dog do?

Although this story was written in the third person, Avi delights readers with a story told from a dog’s perspective. He gives us street names like Most Cars Way, Pine Smell Way, and Elk Scat Way. Jack loves to look at his staring papers (a book) while his parents seem mesmerized by their glow box (TV) and during the day, all the pups go to their special house (school). Avi shows us McKinley constantly “marking” certain areas so that his pack will know his comings and goings, he goes through the ritual of when dogs meet each other, and even describes McKinley’s frustration while trying to convey a rather simple concept to Jack (humans can be SO thick at times).

Avi checks all the right boxes with The Good Dog: age appropriate, an engaging story, memorable characters, great moral lessons, plenty of action and suspense, a few detestable villains, a hero who questions his purpose, some surprising twists, and an ending that’s sure to please. This book shows readers the value of loyalty, honor, and courage and illustrates how bloodline doesn’t dictate who your family is or where your future lies. Countless times McKinley is always looking out for Jack or a member of his pack and although he reaps both the rewards and punishments of his actions, these selfless acts make it clear why he was chosen to be head dog.

Throughout the book, McKinley was a friend, a best friend, a companion, a nemesis, a hero, a champion, and a leader. At the end of the day though, McKinley was just a dog, but more than that, he was a good dog.

Rating: 5/5

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Life with Bingo by Jim Black & Jim Lewis

Life with Bingo    

Jim Black and Jim Lewis

(Reviewer’s Note: I normally review older books, but this newly released book was sent to me personally by the author, Jim Black. His kindness continues to overwhelm me and reinforces the unique bond shared between author and reader. Despite my appreciation for his kindness, my review—as with all of my reviews—is honest and impartial. To provide anything less would be a disappointment and a disservice to this author and I would never do either.)

Life can be daunting on your own—especially when you’re only sixteen years old. But things can be a lot less scary and intimidating when you have your best friend by your side. This is the story of two best friends who escape an abusive home and make their way from Texas to Montana. Along the way, they experience both the dark and light side of humanity and while mankind’s seedy nature allows our travelers to learn valuable lessons about life, it’s the random acts of decency, generosity, and kindness that carry them through to the next day and remind them that there is still good in the world. Good that is just waiting to shower itself onto a teenage boy and his dog.

Jim Black and Jim Lewis take readers on an unforgettable journey told in the alternating voices of our young man and his furry sidekick. Armed with nothing more than a backpack, sheer determination, and each other, our travelers embark on a nearly two-thousand-mile trek that tests their resolve, challenges their trust, and opens up their heart to the possibilities of faith and providence. Life with Bingo is not just a story about running away, it’s about running to and that indescribable force that enables us to keep putting one foot in front of the other or that promises us that things will be better tomorrow if we can just make it through today. And if you’re lucky, you’ll have someone right there beside you to remind you that you are not alone.

Life with Bingo is a fast-paced read with the narration providing poignant and often humorous points of view. While some might see this story as a bit schmaltzy when compared to the stark truths of modern-day reality, I enjoyed immersing myself into this world where good people do good and selfless things—not for clicks or views or likes or fifteen minutes of fame—but because it is the right thing to do. Because helping others not only makes us feel good, but it reminds us of our connectedness. Our understanding that we are merely just one little piece in a very big puzzle and that even though we’re uniquely shaped, we all fit together to form something quite wonderful and special. Aesop wrote, “No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.” Schmaltzy or not, that’s the kind of world I want to live in…especially if there’s a trusty friend by my side.

Special Note: If you are a victim of domestic abuse, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or visit

Rating: 4/5

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